US offers safety, job security to Taliban: report

Last Updated 27 December 2018, 08:39 IST

The US is eager to persuade the Taliban to join the peace process in Afghanistan and is offering a safety network that includes job opportunities for the insurgents, a media report said Thursday.

As the US, Pakistan, China, Russia and other world powers expedite efforts to encourage the Taliban to join the Afghan peace process, the US Defence Department has also outlined a plan for rehabilitating the rebels in a new Afghanistan, the Dawn reported.

"Although some members of the Taliban may be weary of fighting and ready to lay down their weapons, they will only rejoin society if they believe their safety and the safety of their families are guaranteed, and if they have an opportunity to earn enough money to provide for their families," the report said, quoting a Pentagon plan sent to Congress this week, along with the proposals for addressing US security concerns and the interests of Afghanistan's neighbours.

The Pentagon, however, notes that while local leaders are developing programmes that may offer a path to peace on a small scale, "the Afghan government has not developed a national reintegration programme," it said.

Eager to persuade Taliban to join the Afghan peace process, the US is offering them a safety network that includes creating job opportunities for the insurgents, the report said.

While the Trump administration appears keen to start withdrawing US troops from Afghanistan, the Pentagon advocates maintaining enough troops in Afghanistan to force the Taliban to join peace talks.

Over the past 16 months, the US and its partners have used military force to drive the Taliban towards "a durable and inclusive political settlement", the report said.

The Pentagon plan claims that this selective use of force persuaded the Taliban to accept the Eid ul Fitr ceasefire in June.

Even though the Taliban did not publicly accept the second ceasefire offer, "there're indicators of support within the Taliban senior leadership and a desire to pursue negotiations," it adds.

The Taliban have held talks with US envoy Zalmay Khalilzad in Qatar, where the Afghan insurgent group has a political office.

The talks were aimed at renewing the Afghan peace process and eventually winding down America's longest war.

The Pentagon also supports the peace process initiated by US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation (SRAR) Khalilizad, who has already held meetings with the Taliban in Qatar and the UAE and regularly visits Afghanistan and its neighbouring countries, like Pakistan and India, the report said.

"Increased military pressure on the Taliban, international calls for peace, and the new SRAR's engagements appear to be driving the Taliban to negotiations," says the Pentagon plan.

It, however, acknowledges that the Taliban control large portions of Afghanistan's rural areas, and continue to attack poorly defended government checkpoints and rural districts.

A key element in the Pentagon's proposal for persuading the Taliban to stay engaged in the peace process is to "ensure the long-term sustainability of the Access Network Discovery and Selection Function (ANDSF)", which would "demonstrate to the Taliban the international communities' firm resolve in Afghanistan", the report said.

(Published 27 December 2018, 08:24 IST)

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